Slide into prespawn mood in March
Joel Munday of Outdoors Expeditions Guide Service said Falls of the Neuse Lake north of Raleigh and Durham is one of the best lakes in North Carolina for tangling with huge, prespawn staging bass.
When water temperatures range from the 50s to the low 60s, the bass begin staging at main-lake and secondary rocky points near their spawning grounds.
“The fish will stage in 12 feet of water or less before warmer temperatures urge them to move into the creeks to spawn,” said Munday (919-669-2959). “Target points near deep water.”
Munday said Falls of the Neuse has plenty of staging points for bass scattered across its 12,410 acres. But if he could fish only one stretch, it would be from New Light Creek upstream to I-85. The area around I-85 becomes shallow and treacherous; anglers should navigate with care.
Munday cranks for staging bass with his go-to bait, a crawdad-colored No. 7 Shad Rap, fished on a medium-action 13 Fishing baitcasting outfit spooled with 12-pound fluorocarbon.
“It’s a bait that can be retrieved slowly for sluggish, cold-water bass yet allows the fisherman to cover a lot of water,” Munday said. “I keep the bait in contact with the bottom to make it deflect off of rocks and stumps. When the bait deflects, that’s when most of the strikes occur. Rocky points are best in early March; stumpy places are good later in March.”
Other good lure choices work well too
Munday also slow-rolls 3/8- and 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits around rocky structure. He favors Dave’s Tournament Tackle spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse with double willow-leaf blades for clear water or with Colorado blades for dingy water. For fishing grass clumps, he switches to a Z-Man Chatterbait in white/chartreuse of green pumpkin.
When using spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits, he switches to a medium/heavy rod and a reel filled with 15-pound fluorocarbon.
If Falls becomes flooded this month, Munday flips shallow cover with Texas-rigged creature baits or jigs with creature-bait trailers. Color choices include green pumpkin and peanut butter and jelly in clear water or black/blue in stained water.
“The warmer the water gets, the further back in the creeks the bass will move,” Munday said.
Flipping dictates a medium/heavy to heavy action rod and 17- to 20-pound fluorocarbon.
Munday said current is of little importance. Neither is water color unless it’s fresh, muddy water, which hurts the fishing.
The best days are sunny ones with a light breeze behind a warming trend. The worst days are those with strong, cold March winds howling across the lake.